Junior takahe takes the cake

 July 10th 2015

The Motutapu Restoration Trust is celebrating 21 years of volunteer conservation work on Motutapu Island. More than two decades since the start of an ambitious journey of ecological and cultural restoration on Motutapu, the island is a very different place from the bare island it was back then. This is all entirely thanks to the far-reaching vision of the Trust’s founding trustees and the dedication of thousands of volunteers since.

About 100 hectares of farmland have been transformed into a rapidly maturing native forest, with the planting of around 440,000 plants raised from seed by volunteers in the Trust’s native plant nursery. In addition, volunteers have removed many hundreds of thousands of invasive weeds, and many thousands of dollars have been raised for contractors to help in the mammoth weed effort.

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The takahe chick which hatched on Motutapu at the end of 2015

Literally thousands of volunteers from the community have worked on the island enabling the long-term vision to become a reality.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Motutapu Restoration Project,” said Brett Butland, Chair of the Motutapu Restoration Trust. “Today we recognise the commitment of all our volunteers over the last 21 years. Together they have created the sanctuary that is now home for many of New Zealand’s threatened species.”

The creation of a native forest capable of sustaining a variety of New Zealand’s threatened and endangered species provided the incentive for the Department of Conservation to completely eradicate animal pest species from both Rangitoto and Motutapu. The successful eradication has enabled translocations of some of New Zealand’s most threatened and endangered bird species (including takahe, kiwi, shore plover and brown teal) – as well as encouraging other bird species to return under their own wing power to the islands.

“The significance of the volunteers’ work is most powerfully reflected by the successful establishment of the first juvenile takahe on Motutapu,” said Mr Butland. The as-yet unnamed bird was the star of the 21st anniversary celebration.

Mr Butland also acknowledged the achievements of the Trust over the past 21 years. In the first decade: a restoration plan was endorsed, a nursery built, volunteer accommodation secured, a pioneer planting programme started, stands of pohutukawa established around the coast, military style fencing around gun emplacements built, interpretation panels installed on the military sites, military sites made safe, and various forest remnants adopted and fenced off from stock by different Rotary Clubs.

In the second decade, major achievements included: the reopening of the Home Bay Wharf to ferries, the launch of a website, the restoration of the Reid Homestead, the completion of the Rotary Centennial Track including two bridges, a major expansion of the nursery, refurbishment of the old Red Barn, release of the Guns of Motutapu DVD, the establishment of the multi-sport event, the DUAL, as an annual fundraising event, eight annual bird surveys completed, and fresh-water fish introduced.

“Motutapu reflects community conservation at its best. Let us celebrate the past 21 years and look forward to another rewarding decade of ecological and cultural restoration,” said Mr Butland.

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